Chapter 18 When you trust someone
The Commander stopped by Mr. Bernard’s mansion and invited us to dinner.
“Would you like to have a meal outside, with Nonna?”
“I would love to, but I have something I want to discuss with Commander, so please come by my house. It’s better kept from prying ears.”
That promised day is today.
What I wanted to discuss was that after the evening party, I was tailed by a fairly skilled tracker.
Nonna seems to like the Commander and was excited. We haven’t talked about her mother since then. When I asked around at the guard station, her mother was still missing.
There was a knock on the door at exactly the appointed time, and the Commander, who had changed into plain clothes, visited our detached house. The Commander seemed to have just come from a hot bath and his short silver hair shined like real silver thread.
“Well, please go ahead. Food tastes better when it’s hot.”
“It smells good. I’ve been looking forward to this.”
Nonna had guided the Commander and sat him across from me.
I poured steaming white soup into a soup plate, placed it on the table, and sat down. A heap of reheated round bread was already prepared, and butter and white liver paste were also on the table. After taking a sip of the soup, the Commander closed his eyes.
“Ah, it’s a taste that permeates to the stomach.”
“Do you like it?”
“Yeah, I love it. Is this asparagus?”
“Yes. There were white ones sold in the shop. There’s an abundance of ingredients in this country.”
“I’m glad you like this country.”
Estimating it was about time when I finished my soup, I stood up, put on my homemade mittens, and took a deep plate out of the oven.
The cheese in the deep plate sizzled. Beneath it hid a bunch of bacon, carrots, broccoli, and pumpkin.
I served the cheese-grilled vegetables on each plate.
“The heat adds to the taste. Please try it while it’s hot.”
The Commander coolly ate the hot dish. I brought it to my mouth with a spoon, careful not to burn myself. The melted cheese was browned and fragrant. The vegetables were soft and sweet, and the combination of white sauce and cheese gave them a rich flavor. Nonna ate after blowing on it to cool it down.
“So Victoria, what did you want to talk about?”
“Actually, a man has been secretly following me around since that night party. It was creepy and I felt terrified so I plan to report it to the garrison to request they catch him. I thought I should tell Commander first.”
The Commander ate silently as he pondered, drank the wine, and turned to face me.
“I haven’t heard about it, but I have a feeling it was arranged by His Highness the Crown Prince. How did you notice someone was tailing you?”
“At first, I noticed there was a man reflected in the window glass of the shop. From then, I was paying attention and often noticed that man reflected in the glass. But why His Highness the Crown Prince? Does he do that to all women involved with you, since you’re such an important commander?”
I could guess that wasn’t the case.
“No, probably not. Actually…there was someone who knocked the attacker at the night party unconscious in the garden. They suspect it might be you. That’s why His Highness wants to know what kind of person you are.”
“Me? I knocked a man unconscious? Why would he…”
At that point, I decided that it would be better not to ask any further with Nonna around, so I looked at the Commander and then at Nonna. The Commander also noticed my gaze and looked at Nonna. Nonna was enjoying her food deliciously.
“Nonna, brush your teeth after dinner and go to bed, okay?”
It would be terrible if Nonna were to demonstrate ‘She did it like this, followed by this, and then this!’. I’ll have her go to bed early today.
The Commander silently listened to our exchange as he drank wine with a stiff face.
Before long, Nonna began to yawn while still sitting in her chair.
I hurriedly had her brush her teeth, took her to the bedroom and changed her clothes. I laid her down on her bed, covered her with a blanket, left the room, and quietly closed the door.
The two of us decided to continue drinking, so I replaced our glasses, and when I was about to open another bottle of red wine, the Commander took the bottle from me, uncorked it with a practiced hand, and poured it into the glasses.
“Actually, at the night party, a security guard saw the back of a woman running away from the unconscious man. They testified that the color of the woman’s dress was light purple or light blue.”
But that place was pretty dark. Was there someone else with good night vision besides me? I almost clicked my tongue unintentionally.
“I was in a corner of the venue. It’s very troubling to be followed for something I had nothing to do with. If His Highness the Crown Prince continues to follow me…”
The Commander interrupted me from finishing my sentence.
“I will take responsibility and ask His Highness to stop having someone follow you. So please don’t suddenly disappear.”
When I returned the question, the Commander’s expression wavered.
“Well, for some reason I feel like you might suddenly disappear.”
“I wouldn’t do that. You’re thinking too much.”
I wonder if he’s a strangely sharp person. Is it a coincidence?
I was surprised to hear that just after I thought that I should move to another country if the royal family is interested in me.
After that, we talked about trivial matters. I asked the Commander about this and that and also listened to his stories. The Commander made me laugh with his men’s hilarious failure stories. As night fell, he rose to his feet.
“May I come again?”
“Sure. Please do.”
At the entrance, the leader gently wrapped me in his arms. It was a little long for a good night hug. I remained motionless and did not hug him back. After he moved his arms away, I smiled at him and said, “Good night,” and saw him off.
I pondered while washing the dishes with lukewarm water.
I’ve only trusted one person since I started working at the age of fifteen. I’m here because that one person violated my trust.
When you trust someone, you should also be prepared to be betrayed. Then, you won’t feel any pain even if you are betrayed or they suddenly leave. Just laugh and say, “Oh, I knew it.”
I fell asleep while telling myself that.
From the next day, the person tailing me disappeared.
Apparently, the Commander really spoke to them about it.
A few days later.
Today was my day off from work as Mr. Bernard’s assistant.
I decided to go somewhere with Nonna.
Go out and have a change of pace. If it came down to it, there are many places where we can live. Continuing to be frightened of a disaster that may or may not come will only waste your energy.
“Nonna, let’s buy a new ribbon. It’s quite sad to just have one blue one.”
“But I like this.”
“I think a deep reddish purple would look good with Nonna’s blonde hair, don’t you think? Similar to the color of wine. Let’s buy you a pair of shoes in the same color as the ribbon.”
“Use my carriage!” Mrs. Yorana made a fuss but I replied with a smile, “Our bodies will be frailer if we don’t walk” and set off on foot toward the South Ward.
We entered an accessory shop and looked at ribbons of various colors and patterns. Nonna wanted another blue ribbon, so I bought a blue ribbon that was a little darker than her current one and a wine red ribbon.
“Let’s buy one for Vicky too.”
“Me too? Hmmm, well then, I guess I’ll buy a pair that’s the same as Nonna.”
Nonna looked up at me and smiled like she was charmed.
(Buying a gift for someone important to you will make you happy) I thought while holding Nonna’s hand. The gift she chose for Mrs. Yorana’s household also made me happy.
Tonight, Nonna will be staying with Susan, the maid in the main house.
Let’s go to that bar again.